Joycee Awosika, founding father of ORIKI
Joycee Awosika began her cosmetics line ORIKI in 2015, utilizing indigenous Nigerian ingredients to make high-quality skincare products. The model has since expanded to embody a contract manufacturing enterprise and a series of spas. Awosika spoke to James Torvaney about how she constructed the enterprise in addition to coping with provide chain and manufacturing challenges.
When you moved to Nigeria from the United States in 2011, you had a superb profession within the vitality sector. Why did you permit that to begin a cosmetics model?
I moved to Nigeria in 2011, after I was working within the vitality sector. I used to be born and raised in Washington DC however I’d all the time had this dream of making Nigerian products that would compete side-by-side with the very best worldwide manufacturers.
In the United States there was this rising consciousness individuals had of the origin of their skincare products, and of wellness basically, and I knew of all of those indigenous ingredients in Nigeria. So in 2015 I left the vitality sector and created ORIKI as a farm-to-skin and wellness model. I used to be impressed by outlets like Lush and Body Shop which managed to construct manufacturers round ingredients like shea butter; taking one thing very unusual for West Africans and turning it into one thing premium.
You speak loads about pure and indigenous ingredients. What form of ingredients do you imply by this?
There are simply so many ingredients grown right here in Nigeria, and we’re simply scratching the floor of all of the totally different advantages of them. Things like aloe vera, moringa, even okra. And for every one in every of these there are various other ways you should use them, totally different extractions, totally different tinctures.
For instance, we use hibiscus in three or 4 of our products. People name it the ‘botox plant’ due to its anti-ageing properties, the way it lifts the pores and skin in your face. We additionally use extractions of kola nut in our hair oil and conditioner – it’s a nice supply of caffeine, which helps stimulate hair progress. Turmeric is one other wonderful ingredient – it acts as a lightening agent.
There is a whole lot of science concerned in creating a few of these products. Was there a steep studying curve so as to perceive a number of the technical elements of manufacturing?
When I made a decision to go into the cosmetics enterprise, I enrolled in Formula Botanica – the very best formulation college within the UK – which gave me sufficient data to speak with producers. But one of many issues about being a founder is you want to construct a group who specialises in these sorts of issues, particularly as we grew to provide contract manufacturing for different manufacturers. We now have a group of scientists and botanists who work on the analysis and improvement of the products in our lab in Lagos. It was actually troublesome to discover these individuals in Nigeria however we did it.
Loads of the work we’re doing may be very scientific – I believe there may be positively alternative for extra analysis on African ingredients and turning them into skincare products that may grow to be the ‘subsequent massive issues’ internationally. At ORIKI we wish to grow to be a thought chief on this area and we’re engaged on a much bigger laboratory to do extra work on all of the totally different vegetation, herbs and oils which might be grown right here in Nigeria.
A choice of ORIKI skincare products.
What are the largest challenges you’ve confronted?
The greatest points for me have been round provide chain and manufacturing. At the start, I needed to manufacture all the pieces in Nigeria. But individuals informed me it was higher to produce it outdoors the nation as a result of shoppers wouldn’t need to see a ‘made in Nigeria’ label. Eventually, I ended up utilizing a producer in Canada for the primary two years that specialised in formulating products utilizing distinctive ingredients from Africa and Asia.
But as we’ve got grown we’ve got moved a whole lot of the operations again to Nigeria – proper now we’re sourcing round 60% of our products right here, and manufacturing all the pieces domestically, together with manufacturing products for different cosmetics manufacturers.
The difficulties are issues like: ensuring the products all have the identical consistency, ensuring we all the time obtain the identical ingredients, that we’re receiving what we’re supposed to. Many of the ingredients are compromised or haven’t been saved correctly. There isn’t a correct requirements organisation that makes certain these methods are in place. Just final week, I had to ship a batch of ingredients again to a provider as a result of it clearly wasn’t what they mentioned it was.
Within just a few months of enterprise, you modified your technique away from focusing purely on products and began an ORIKI spa. Why was this?
My unique plan was centered solely on creating products. I had by no means meant to personal and function a spa. But we didn’t have an enormous advertising price range, and with out that it’s actually laborious to crack the market. The home market then was extra fascinated about lightening products than wellness.
I realised I wanted to be progressive with our advertising strategy, so I made a decision to create an expertise that would appeal to clients. I turned the highest room of the showroom right into a spa. It was a painful determination at first, but it surely was crucial determination I’ve made as a result of the ORIKI Spa is what grew to become identified. The spa gave us a prepared income stream, helped set up the model and introduced publicity to our products – lots of our spa clients go on to purchase our products for their very own use.
Now the spa is a profitable enterprise in its personal proper. We run 4 spas throughout Lagos and these generate half of the ORIKI’s group’s income.
What are you planning subsequent for the ORIKI model?
We are engaged on spas in Kano and Abuja and likewise taking a look at franchising to develop into worldwide markets, beginning with Accra. The stunning factor about franchising is that each time we open up a brand new spa location we create a brand new platform for the product vary to thrive, and for extra individuals to see and interact with the model.
On the product aspect, the ORIKI model is already current in a number of the greatest magnificence shops in Nigeria, and we’re launching internationally on Amazon within the United States and the United Kingdom this month. That will likely be an actual recreation changer for us. For us to actually scale, I’d like to double the share of our total income that comes from the products enterprise.
The subject proper now’s that demand is way outstripping provide. I can’t wait to transfer for us to scale and transfer into our subsequent facility.
The firm runs 4 spas throughout Lagos.
How does your franchising mannequin work?
I’m actually excited concerning the franchising however I realise we’re taking a giant danger. It’s a way more troublesome mannequin on this a part of the world than in, say, the United States. There are infrastructure challenges, difficulties managing franchisees, ensuring they observe set guidelines.
We took on specialised franchise consultants to assist us set all the pieces up – we’ve got coaching arrange for employees and administration, thorough background checks, a devoted know-how platform for franchisees to use, and a complete handbook that has each single customary working process you would wish to run your complete firm, even issues like how to discover the best location. We handhold our franchisees all alongside the way in which and ensure the system is totally plug-and-play. The minimal funding required to open up a standalone spa as a franchisee – for those who don’t have already got the area – is round $70,000. However, we’re additionally taking a look at launching cellular franchisees – skilled spa therapists that would ship remedies on-demand – that may require a a lot decrease funding, round $1,000.
In the six years you’ve been on this enterprise, how has the market modified? What developments do you foresee sooner or later?
The market has modified loads. In Nigeria, developments have a tendency to observe different international locations, just like the United States and the United Kingdom. Internationally, shoppers have grow to be extra within the ingredients and supply of their products, and rather more centered on wellness and security. People are extra educated about what they’re shopping for now. We have began to see this in Nigeria too, significantly among the many extra internationally uncovered. When we began, there was extra of a deal with products that change your pores and skin, akin to lightening lotions. Now we’re seeing lots of people who say they’re switching in the direction of extra pure products.
After Covid, all eyes are on wellness. Even with the restrictions, we did way more income in 2020 than any earlier 12 months. After lockdown lifted, individuals took rather more discover of wellness. Now we’re all the time totally booked and have week-long ready lists, even on days like Mondays and Tuesdays, which used to be mild.
Another vital issue is that over the past three years or so, ‘made in Nigeria’ has grow to be much more accepted. Before, it wasn’t a lot of a superb factor. But in a really quick area of time Africa grew to become fashionable. Africa is ‘in’ in the meanwhile and I believe that’s going to proceed.
James Torvaney is a enterprise advisor and monetary advisor specialising in West Africa. He has labored with purchasers throughout a lot of sectors, together with know-how, manufacturing, shopper items and hospitality.